FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It started out as a routine answer, basically what you'd expect from any opposing head coach asked about how the New England Patriots would deal with not having tight end Rob Gronkowski in their next game.
"There's a lot of talent on that roster and they can do a lot of different things. So it's definitely a challenge," New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan began, in his Tuesday conference call with New England reporters.
But then in Rex Ryan style, as if he couldn't resist the chance, the Jets coach fired a subtle salvo.
"It's interesting," began Ryan. "I wonder... when you lose a great player like that, with Gronkowski, clearly that's something you have deal with as a coach.
"I wonder how New England feels without (the Jets having receiver Santonio) Holmes or (cornerback Darrelle) Revis."
After making his point -- that the Jets have dealt with injuries to major players this year, too -- Ryan put it more bluntly.
"I don't feel sorry for them, let's put it that way," Ryan said.
Ryan noted that it is still a challenge to prepare for the Patriots offense without Gronkowski, as they become harder to predict.
"I think there's five tight ends on the roster. You don't know if they're going to plug somebody else in, or what they're going to do there," Ryan said. "We basically have to be ready for anything."
At the same time, not having to prepare for Gronkowski is a weight off Ryan's back.
"But clearly Gronkowski is one of the premier players in this league, so I hate the fact that he's hurt," Ryan concluded. "But if he's going to miss a game, I'm not upset that he's missing our game."